When we let people into the sacred space of our lives, they must deserve to be there. And want to be there. They must give you a place in their lives.
And–this is key–THEY must think YOU are too important to lose.
Bottom line: They must be additive to our lives. Whether they are a family member, a love interest or a friend, the criteria for evaluating this are the same.
A conversation recently with someone who believes a relationship has run its course went something like this:
It’s too hard. Too limiting. They’re too walled-off. Too dense.
Too much. And consequently, too little.
Here’s an outline of our discussion and the criteria they used to evaluate the relationship:
Take a good look and make sure it’s a clear view.
Sometimes we assume people are additive to our lives without examining what’s actually true. Maybe it’s habit, maybe assumption or maybe it’s how we think it should be. Or even fear of what others will think. Take all of that off the table and look at the relationship dynamic. What is really going on?
Is it reciprocal?
Any relationship has to benefit both parties in a fairly equal give and take. It has to be mutual. Look at your own behavior and then look at theirs. Are you always giving more than you get? Or is the opposite true? Does an honest look show you that it’s a one-sided relationship?
Are they there for you?
That means in good times and in bad. Sometimes it’s a relationship based on “misery loves company.” If someone can’t share your joys, too, and be happy for you, they aren’t additive.
Is it limiting? or limited?
The world is your oyster. Does this relationship limit you in any way? Can you be you? Are there things you can’t do, can’t say, or can’t be? These are danger signs.
Are they accessible? Are you?
Are they hiding behind a fortress? Do you have to protect yourself by putting your own walls up? Walls are unececessary in a healthy relationship of any kind. If walls are involved, don’t stick around. Know for sure that you aren’t going to be able to take theirs down.
Don’t use “reasons why” as an excuse to stick around in dysfunction
I know more than a little about psychology, so when I was younger I always figured out the “reasons” for the other person’s behavior –and used them as reasons to excuse their behavior.
That’s no longer true for me. I probably know even more, NOW, about psychology, but I no longer see underlying reasons or issues as an excuse for someone’s dysfunctional behavior.
Understand that it is what it is
Once you’ve got that clear view and get that it is what it is, and it is unlikely to be any different, it’s easier to take the next step. Wish them well and step out of the relationship.
And into the fuller life that awaits.
I’m not going to tell you it isn’t hard, or painful. It is both. No matter what kind of relationship it is.
If you’ve let someone into your sacred space and they’ve failed to respect it, moving on is the only healthy thing to do.